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When to give away a copy of your book

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You slaved over your book, spending your most precious commodity: your time. Then you paid for coaching, editing, design and printing. You have put so much into writing your book, and getting it into the world, that giving it away might seem foolish.

And, indeed, it is foolish if you give away this precious gift without thinking carefully about the reason for doing so.

So how do you choose the moment to give your book away?

Remember, firstly, that all authors give away copies of their books, including authors who are published by traditional authors. It is called “seeding the market”. For example, authors and their publishers give copies to reviewers, to influencers, to friends and family and supporters who helped them along the way.

But, as the author of a business book, there is an important distinction for you to remember when you give away your book. Your goal is not to sell books, but to sell you, your ideas and your programs and services. Even best-selling authors struggle to make a living from book sales.

On the other hand, you want your book to have a “scarcity” value. If you give it away to all and sundry, perhaps the recipients will not keep it, read it and treasure it.

Your book is a great gift. When I give away my book, it signifies an important moment in the development of my relationship with a prospective client/author-to-be.

So, I never give my book to people I do not meet in person or virtually. Yes, I give away Part One in electronic form as a get-to-know-you gift, but I only give the whole printed book to those who sit down with me to build a relationship. It’s not about whether they buy my programs. It is about whether they invest time to discover more about each other.

I love books as a “marketing tool” (although I struggle with that reductionist way of describing books) because they:

  • Reveal our personality, and deepen relationships even before we meet someone.

  • Show what we know and how we work

  • Implicitly and explicitly describe the types of people we want to work with (and would prefer not to work with)

Of course, I am not suggesting that you do not sell your book. Please sell it whenever you can — from your website and elsewhere. Those who buy it may or may not become your clients. Either way, you have begun the journey to building a relationship.

P.S. You might also like How to prepare a book chapter before you write it.


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